tv CBS Evening News CBS August 31, 2013 6:00pm-6:31pm PDT
>> axelrod: tonight, the president asks congress to back his plan to strike syria. >> what message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price. >> axelrod: but will lawmakers support him? we have a team of correspondents in washington and damascus. the massive rim wildfire in yosemite is still raging, but it's more than trees going up in smoke. manual bojorquez has the fire fallout. diana nyad sets off on her fifth attempt to swim from cuba to florida. is it an impossible dream. elaine quijano has the story. and it was the other speech at the march on washington. 50 years later, a look back at a rabbi's moment and a warning to never forget. >> the most tragic problem is silence.
captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news." >> axelrod: good evening. i'm jim axelrod with a western edition of the broadcast. president obama spoke to the american people from the rose garden this afternoon, pressing his case for a military action against the syrian regime and calling the chemical attack that claimed more than 1,400 lives in syria 10 days ago "a menace that must be confronted." but the president also made it clear he does not want to proceed alone and will seek authorization and support for a limited strike from congress. we have several reports tonight beginning with bill plante at the white house. bill, we understand the president's decision to take this to congress came as a surprise even to his own advisers. >> reporter: absolutely, jim. he called them into his senior office last night to tell them-- two things-- that he's now decided it use military force but also that he was reversing course and would seek
congressional approval. his reasoning, according to officials who were in the room-- he wants members on the record rather than simply criticizing from outside whatever action he takes. >> after careful deliberation, i have decided that the united states should take military action against syrian regime targets. this would not be an open-ended intervention. we would not put boots on the ground. instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. >> reporter: senior officials say in an oval office meeting last night, mr. obama pointed to the british parliament's decision earlier this week-- >> the nos have it. >> reporter: ...not to join in the u.s. strike as a reason to seek broader approval by taking the issue to congress. he will spend the next 10 days making his case to the members. >> here's my question for every member of congress and every member of the global community: what message will we send in a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight
and pay no price? >> reporter: this morning, the president held a two-hour meeting in the white house situation room. aides said there was some debate over the risks of waiting to act. but the president determined that the u.s. must strike because he believes that u.s. national security interests are at stake. >> make no mistake, this has implications beyond chemical warfare. if we won't enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act what, does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flaunt fundamental international rules, to governments who would choose to build nuclear arms, to terrorists who would spread biological weapons, to armies who carry out genocide? >> reporter: now the president says he's been assured by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff that postponing a military strike is not a problem. he knows, he says, that americans are weary of war, but that the u.s. must not turn a blind eye to the chemical attack in damascus. jim. >> axelrod: so, bill, what
happens if congress does not vote to approve? does the president still take military action? >> reporter: well, the white house officials say first they are confident that congress will authorize limited use of force. but the president also insisted today that he has the authority to act alone. and, of course, if congress does turn him down, he'll be able to blame them for whatever comes next. >> axelrod: bill plante at the white house. thank you. congress isn't back in session until a week from monday, but our congressional correspondent nancy cordes is in our washington bureau. nancy, any indication how the president's remarks are being received? >> reporter: well, jim, hundreds of members have urged the president to let them take this vote, and so today, almost as soon as the president finished speaking, the statements starting pouring in, many of them applauding his decision. democrat carl levin who chairs the armed services committee wrote:
there were some members who felt this move was kind of a cop-out. republican peter king of new york said: now, what we didn't learn in most of these statements today, jim, was how all these lawmakers plan to vote. but what i can tell you is that most congressional leaders who are involved in national security issues have all said they would support targeted strikes. among the rest congress the reaction has been mixed. there are many members who want to know what those strikes would achieve, what the risks are, what it would cost, many of the same questions the american public is asking. jim. >> axelrod: nancy cordes reporting from our washington bureau, thank you, nancy.
the president didn't have to look far to find those opposed to the idea of a u.s. strike against the assad regime. neither did jeff pegues, who found some very vocal demonstrators not too far from the oval office. >> president obama... take your hand off syria. >> reporter: outside the white house today, protesters called possible military action in syria illegal and immoral. >> the american people are opposed to. >> reporter: there were dozens of people here, like 28-year-old lana ismail. >> i think in war the first thing to go is the truth. >> reporter: a syrian-american who says she has seen the horrible aftermath but she doesn't know who to believe or trust. what do you think the u.s. should do? >> i think that the u.s. should get all the facts straight before we go in. >> reporter: the president knows he has a tough sell ahead, not just in the u.s., but around the world. in yemen, thousands took to the street, waving their flags in
support of bashar al-assad. and in london, another protest applauded lawmakers there who voted against the obama administration's plan. >> obama, hand off syria. >> reporter: today, just feet away from the white house gates, this man in the white t-shirt was arrested for spitting on a protester against military action. it is an emotional debate. jeff pegues, cbs news, washington. >> axelrod: let's go to syria now and see how the president's remarks are playing there. elizabeth palmer is the only american network correspondent in the capital of damascus. liz. >> reporter: good evening, jim. well, the two sides in syria's civil war have responded very differently to the president's remarks. the opposition rebel military leaders and politicians who hope that american strikes might pave the way for a renewed offensive on their part are both frustrated and disappointed. here in damascus, the syrian regime has responded
aggressively, saying that it would have retaliated for a strike, and is still prepared to. the deputy prime minister said our finger is still on the trigger and went on to say that it was syrian military readiness that, as he put it, averted this u.s. aggression. to civilians in damascus who is are still hoping to avoid all- out war inside their city, the president's comment came as a relief. just a short time before president obama spoke, we visited a local bakery where people were stocking up before finding a bomb-proof place to hide because many had heard the rumor that an american attack would begin tonight. imad, who asked that we hide his face, was here to buy enough supplies for his family for a month. >> reporter: just a few hours later, the prospect of american
action hadn't disappeared, but it has receded. but although no american attack is imminent, this very violent and vicious civil war is still raging. we've been hearing ear-splitting explosions all day. the syrian military pounding the rebel-held suburbs around damascus with heavy artillery. jim. >> axelrod: elizabeth palmer reporting for us tonight from syria. thank you. and this programming note-- secretary of state john kerry will speak about the president's syria strategy when he appears on "face the nation" tomorrow morning. now, to a shake-up at the highest levels of the catholic church. the pope's second in command, the vatican secretary of state, retired today after a series of scandals. alphonso van marsh now on the efforts of pope france to reshape the vatican. >> reporter: it is seen as pope francis' most significant reshuffle yet, replacing cardinal bertone.
the longtime secretary of state has widely been blamed for failing to stop the financial mismanagement of the anniversary bank. he was also target bide former pope benedict's butler, in documents alleging bertone was crument. the church historian and author michael walsh says pope francis' move to switch out bertone was not a surprise. >> he had to go because there were too many scandals associated with him. i think pope would have changed him anyway, frankly. >> the new secretary of state is known for humility, frugality and the ability to identify with the man on the street. pope fancis' short reign as pope has been distinguished by his relatively austere lifestyle and common touch with the people. with pietro parolin serving as the second most powerful man in the vatican, pope francis is distancing the church away from the problems that plagued hills predecessor. alphonso van marsh, cbs news, london.
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with a shift of wind. this is now what halfdome look likes from yosemite valley. the threat of fire has kept some tourists away. park officials fear attendance will be down by as much as 18,000 this weekend. fire crews have set up a containment line, but thousands more acres could burn before the fire reaches it. >> i've never seen a fire in california this intense or this important. >> reporter: mike mcmillan is with the incident command team. is the strategy here to just let it burn? >> no, we don't ever just let it burn. what we're planning to do with yosemite is to use fire and natural barriers to stop the fire where we can without losing the precious resources that we all enjoy and know yosemite for. >> reporter: the pentagon has approved the use of an unmanned aerial drone, helping firefighters map out where the flames are advancing. outside the park, residents are back in mountain town, saved by firefighters. but the smoke lingers, and so does an empty feeling. tory moss books vacation
rentals, which should be full. >> it's the biggest weekend of the year for us. it's like the 4th of july. every home that we have was booked. >> reporter: the reservations had to be canceled, an estimated $20,000 loss. >> we would rather them be safe than try to make some money, you know, to get them up here. >> reporter: it could be two weeks before crews have the fire fully surrounded. manual bojorquez, cbs news, los angeles. >> axelrod: two hongz after the supreme court ruling that allowed same-sex marriages to proceed, a supreme court justice is performing one for the very first time justice jeff bezo jeg is officialating at the weddinge obsession.
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on a wrongful rape conviction. the falcons gave him a chance after he was exonerated last year. he did play one pre-season game, fulfilling his dream of playing in the nfl. swimmer diana nyad left cuba for the united states this morning, and she's take, the long way. nyad is 64, and this is her fifth attempt to swim from havana to florida, all 103 miles of it. elaine quijano report on an unstoppable three throoet's unsinkable dream. >> reporter: the nature of this sport is filled with magic. here on the earth's ocean and you're skimming across the surface of and and you don't get much higher than that. >> reporter: undurrance athlete diana nyad is obsessed with this stretch of ocean. at 28 years old, he set out to become the first person to swim 103 miles from cuba to florida without a shark cage. she did not make it. that was 1978. >> if we could have gone on the
right course, i would have made it. you know. but i did my best. i didn't give up. >> reporter: for the next 31 years, she stopped swimming entirely, she says. then at age 60, when many others start slowing down, she realized she couldn't stop thinking about that water, that horizon, and reaching the destination that alluded her decades earlier. >> i wanted to teach myself at 60 some life lessons, and one of them is that you don't give up. >> reporter: since 2010, she's tried and failed three more times to cross the shark-infested waters of the florida straits. but it's the threat she wasn't expecting that has forced thoar abandon her most recent attempts. >> the box jellyfish takes you into an area of what i'd call science fiction. >> reporter: box jellyfish are among the ocean's deadliest creatures. nyad says they weren't an issue
35 years ago but in a recent attempt she was stung nine times before she was pulled from the water. >> usually, people die. you feel like you've been dipped in hot, burning oil. you just go on-- you burst into flames. and i just remember yelling, "i'm on fire! i'm on fire! help me!" >> this year she'll wear a new piece equipment, this custom-made silicone mask to shield her lips which have been stung in the past. >> it's hard to swim in. it's hard to lift your breath and get a breath but i've been out with the box jellyfish with it and no stings at all. >> reporter: and that she believes will make all the difference. why are you making this attempt again gihaven't reached wall where there's nothing more to give, nothing more to learn. fidon't make it i will this time be able to look myself in the mirror and say there's nothing more. >> reporter: three and a half decades after starting her quest, 64-year-old diana nyad
hopes this will be the year she completes it. elaine quijano, cbs news, key west, florida. >> axelrod: 50 years ago, this rabbi's words resonated with hundreds of thousands at the march on washington. the other dre back. you know who you are. you can part a crowd, without saying a word... if you have yet to master the quiet sneeze... you stash tissues like a squirrel stashes nuts... well muddlers, muddle no more. try zyrtec®. it gives you powerful allergy relief. and zyrtec® is different than claritin® because zyrtec® starts working at hour one on the first day you take it. claritin® doesn't start working until hour three. zyrtec®. love the air. mayo? corn dogs? you are so outta here! aah! [ female announcer ] the complete balanced nutrition of great-tasting ensure. 24 vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and 9 grams of protein. [ bottle ] ensure®.
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but more than one man articulate aid dream that day, even if the power of martin luther king overshadowed them. it was the toughest time slot of the day. never mind having to follow mahalia jackson, the queen of gospel. ( cheers and applause ) >> i wish i could sing. >> reporter: rabbi joachim prinz was the last man up before martin luther king. >> i was the rabbi of the jewish community in berlin under the hitler regime. >> axelrod: the horrors this rabbi witnessed in nazi germany in the 30s compelled him to challenge america in the 60s. >> bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problems. upon most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence. ( applause ) >> it was really marvelous to
see a quarter of a million people. >> rabbi iseral drez america a protege of prinz's, was standing a few feet away on the podium that day and could feel the power of prinz's message ripple through the crowd. >> that really rang a bell because all sorts of clerg neamerica, they weren't racists, they aren't big on thes, but they kept their mouths shut. >> axelrod: as a wise man once said all it takes for evil to triumph is for a good man to do nothing. >> exactly. >> reporter: prinz was expelled from germany and came to newark, new jersey, where his congregation welcomed the young dr. king twice. so there was a direct line between the holocaust and the american civil rights struggle? >> absolutely. jews are opposed to injustice. we are opposed to hatred and bigotry, and bias, and racism, and exploitation and so forth. and that's what we're supposed
to be opposed to. >> america must not become a nation of onlookers. >> reporter: as he had three decades before, prinz refused to be silent, and encouraged all americans to speak up just as loudly. >> america must not remain silent. >> axelrod: rabbi joachim prinz, 50 years ago this week. and that is the cbs evening news for tonight. later on cbs, two editions of "48 hours." for now, i'm jim axelrod in new york. for all of us here at cbs news, thanks for joining us and good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
opening. plus the work moved from outside to insid protest nats people in the bay area say o an attack on syria. how president obama says he wano take his case to the people. these could be the best dayr car dealerships in the histy of the automobile. why they're calling this weekend the mo of all car sales. kpix 5 news is next. good evening, i'm ann notarangelo. ,,,,,,,,,,